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Showing posts with label loving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label loving. Show all posts

Upbeat Emotions & Learning for Love

Synopsis: An Elven teaching about a difference between “smart” and “wise”, finding the guidance messages for upbeat love emotions, the grand importance of sharing emotions, 7 upbeat emotions to share and use for practice in getting your personal guidance messages and more.


It was told of old that the ancient elves taught:
“The smart learn from their hurts, agonies, disappointments and despair.

The wise learn from their joys, ecstasies, contentments, and elations,
while sadly – the rest learn not from their feelings at all.”
Natural, good feeling emotions can give us great guidance.  Natural, good feeling emotions tell us that we are doing something probably healthful and right for us to do.  Shared natural, good feeling emotions guide us toward more and better bonding together in love relationships.  Natural, good feeling emotions can teach us a great deal about ourselves, our relationships and how to make both stronger and more successful.  It is our job to learn how to get the guidance messages of our natural, good feeling emotions and use them for higher, greater and more wonderful love.

Feelings, both physical and emotional, are ancient, natural guidance systems working for our safety, survival and advancement.  They are far older than are reasoning and conscious thought.  In relationships and especially love relationships our emotional system of feelings often gives far wiser guidance than do reason or contemplation.  However, it is even more advantageous when we use our thinking and reasoning abilities with our emotions because that gives us the very best guidance our incredible brains can produce.

Of even greater benefit is when two or more people in a love relationship share in a simple, ‘four step process’.  First comes sharing their emotions, second is searching for and discovering the guidance messages in their emotions and sharing them with one another, third comes sharing and synthesizing their thinking about the feelings and the guidance message, and finally comes acting in teamwork with one another from what they have discovered from sharing and synthesizing.  Synthesizing means to interweave together the guidance messages of the emotions and actions stemming from those guidance messages.

Here’s a simple example.  Harriet feels cold and understands her feeling guidance message is to “warm up”.  Charlie feels hot and understands his guidance message is to  “cool down”.  Instead of arguing about whether or not they’re going to turn up or turn down the thermostat they synthesize their guidance messages, so Charlie takes off his shirt and hands it to Harriet who puts it on.  Charlie is cooler, Harriet is warmer, and both are happier in their harmony together via sharing feelings and their guidance messages and arriving at ‘synthesis’.

There are a number of good things that come from sharing emotions and together discovering the guidance that those emotions give.  Here’s the biggest and most wonderful part of that.  Sharing emotions together may result in the most significant relationship experiences people have together.  By lovingly sharing both the emotions we call “good” and the ones we call “bad” continued emotional connecting and bonding tends to become ongoing.  Without that sharing, emotional connection can fade and love relationships may die.

Sharing the emotions of good times and bad times, but especially the upbeat, good times tends to strengthen a couple, or a family, or friendship, or any other human unit.  Sharing upbeat feelings is more easily enriching to humans who love each other, but sometimes through sharing hurts there is deep connectedness also.  Without the sharing of good, happy, upbeat emotions the continued strengthening and enrichment of a love relationship is very hard to achieve.

Many people do not know that sharing good or upbeat emotions is just as important, if not more important, than sharing the ‘downer’ emotions of pain and displeasure.  While sharing pain tends to lessen the pain, sharing good feelings provides motivation to be together, stay together and move forward together.  Sharing good or upbeat feelings also provides knowledge, for those who know to learn from it, for how to repeatedly achieve good feelings and the enrichments, health and well-being that natural, good feelings bring.  Consider the statement “Date your mate or lose your mate” (see blog entry “Date Your Mate – Always!”).  It is in the shared joys of recreation that couples, families, and others are re-created as the word recreation indicates.  Therefore, dates, vacations and other ‘upbeat’ emotional experiences are vital to the healthful continuance of love relationships.

Of course it is really best and highly important to share both the feelings we call “good” and the feelings we call “bad” which enable us to better get the guidance messages of them all.  In a sense all feelings are good because all feelings give guidance.  The ‘team’ we call a couple, or a family, or a friendship, like any team, needs shared guidance.  Otherwise one part of the team doesn’t know what the other part of the team is all about and, thus, teamwork fails.  It is a simple truth that within a team shared guidance works far better than un-shared guidance and that’s why it is important that all the team members join in sharing their feelings with each other.  Only then can all share in the guidance those feelings can give.

Here is an example.  His strong emotions were pushing him toward adventure.  Her strong feelings were for safety.  With love they shared their emotions, and with wisdom they synthesized the guidance messages they got from their feelings.  Mountain climbing, starting with a modest mountain, became the most exciting thing they had ever done together and the shared excitement, shared adventure and the shared awe of grand vistas bonded them together like little else could.

She was so thankful for his spirit and desire for adventure because it brought her worlds she never knew and ecstasy she never imagined experiencing.  Her own emotions of fear, anxiety and foreboding motivated her request that they start with a not too difficult ascent and also that she bring an extra well-equipped first-aid kit, which contained the necessary items that saved his life when a rattlesnake bit him as they were descending the mountain.  He was so thankful that her emotions guided her to the safeguarding actions that saved his life.

Shared fears and desires lead to following the guidance messages that lead to both of them surviving adversity and to a grand and enriching shared adventure.  It also brought them closer together and strengthened their mutual love experience.  He at first had thought her safety concerns were a bit excessive.  She quite definitely thought his adventure desires were excessive but with love, hope and certain safeguarding actions she went forward with him.  Both came to feel very glad for being able to understand the guidance their emotions gave them.

So, are you learning the guidance messages and teachings hidden in the wisdom of your emotions?  (For more information about the guidance messages of emotions see the entry “Dealing with Love Hurts #1 – Pain’s Crucial Guidance”)  Are you especially learning from your upbeat, happy emotions?  With a loved one, together are you sharing those emotions, jointly learning their guidance messages, and weaving together what you learn?  Do you actively seek to learn the feelings of those you love and ascertain the guidance messages and teachings in the feelings of your loved ones?  Are you good at synthesizing yours and your loved one’s emotional guidance messages?

To help you toward doing these things here are five types of ‘good’ or pleasant to experience emotions, and typical learnings or guidance messages ‘wise people’ — or elves — sometimes get from these good feelings.

1. Emotion: Serenity: Possible Guidance Message: Here is restoration, so linger with it and soak it up.  Whenever you’re stressed, hassled, anguished or just drained learning from your serenity could help you remember what you did, and how you behaved, and where you went that got you to serenity and to its highly restorative enrichment so that you might do it again.  If you share your feelings of serenity with a loved one they may also feel some serenity or feel more connected with you and your current serene countenance, plus they could learn the same thing you’re learning from that feeling.  A loved one might also notice and remind you when you need to do those things that lead to your restorative serenity.

2.  Emotion: Joyful Anticipation: Possible Guidance Message: Go forward, let yourself get into the anticipated experience fully, soak it up and be enriched by it.  Sharing it with a loved one may help them have a good feeling of joyful anticipation also, and that may double both your pleasures, helping to connect you with your loved one more fully.

3.  Emotion: Tenderness: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling tender toward someone can guide you to show and share your feeling softly, delicately, slowly and somewhat carefully.  The guidance coming from tenderness can lead you toward a more intimate connection with someone you love.

4.  Emotion: Affection:  Possible Guidance Message: feeling affectionate can guide us to lovingly touch, say words of affection, give and act with affectionate affirmation, and actually be far more in touch with experiencing what is wonderful about a loved one.  Done well, expressed affectionate feelings are often highly rewarding to both the lover and the loved.  Received well, affection is often energizing, thus, boosting a person’s experience of you, themselves and life.

5. Emotion: Pride: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling pride guides you to be more confident in either ‘your being’ or ‘your doing’ accomplishments.  It also may get you to store up that confidence so that you can accomplish more.  Pride may help you honor yourself which will tend to strengthen your self-esteem, your sense of worth, and be more motivated ‘to own’ your okayness and, therefore, attempt more in your life.  Accurate pride also may counter low self esteem, poor self concept, and a general sense of inadequacy, along with encouraging independence and self-assertion. (Note: Accurate pride in yourself is always the enemy of that which is dictatorial and controlling).

Pride in a loved one, or in your coupleness, in your family, in a friendship or anything else you’re a part of is great for feeling united and inspired.  Furthermore, accurate pride can guide us toward having a greater sense of empowered security because of a solidarity with ourselves and others.  Pride in others is best when it is shared, which rewards other’s actions and helps with feeling connected.  Sharing pride in yourself with a good, self respecting loved one, so long as it is not overdone and is accurate, usually garners respect and greater relaxation together.  Do note, there are those who may have trouble with you being proud, for example, the envious, the jealous, the inadequate and those who have been taught that pride is a sin

It is important that everyone work to get their own guidance messages from their own emotions because the guidance messages can vary to a fair degree from person to person.  Generally the guidance message in all so-called “good” feeling emotions is to keep doing the actions or thoughts that brought the feelings, until boredom comes along to tell you to do something else.  The general guidance message in most emotions known as “bad” feelings is to do something different, usually right away.  But as you can see from the above examples of upbeat emotions there is a lot more ‘wisdom’ to be learned and lived by in the “guidance messages for the wise”.

You and a loved one might want to talk about what you think the guidance messages could be for both of you together when experiencing the following ‘upbeat’ emotions: 1. Awe, 2. Joy, 3. Sweetness,  4. Closeness,  5. Tickled , 6. Ecstasy & 7. Respect.

As always –Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Will you identify and share with a loved one the strongest two emotions you have felt so far today, and together see if you can discern what the guidance messages in those feelings might be?


Adultery And No Divorce Love

Synopsis: Bennett’s dilemma, What most couples are not doing about adultery, Adultery’s bigger definition, Bennett’s relief, Adultery commonality, Three major questions to grapple with, Accepting multiple causation, Changing mindsets, Adultery of the heart, Agony, struggling and no divorce love.


Quote: "Everybody’s telling me I should divorce my wife because she’s been having sex with somebody besides me.  Even my priest has said my wife is an adulterer and that provides me with perfectly acceptable grounds for an annulment in our church.  He even offered to help me with the paperwork.  Both my brothers and my sister say “divorce her” and that’s what they would do.  I know she’s committing adultery but I just can’t bring myself to divorce.  I love her way too much to end it.”  Bennett lamented all this in a very anguished individual counseling session late one evening.  I replied, “Perhaps not going toward divorce is going to turn out to be a good thing.

You see most of the people who don’t divorce after adultery are glad they stayed married.  Not only that, but most of the people who do divorce because of adultery a year later are not at all sure they did the right thing.  Many wish they had stayed and worked on their marriage a lot more than they did.  At least that’s what I see in my practice, and there’s also pretty good research that largely backs me up on this.  It seems that more and more people don’t think adultery is worth getting a divorce over, even though adultery is usually an enormous, hurt-filled problem”.

As used here, the word adultery means having secret, sexual or powerfully romantic, emotional relations with someone other than your spouse in a way that involves betrayal, lies, deceptions, a lack of self disclosure and honest sharing, usually accompanied by the creation and maintenance of false and incomplete understandings.

Bennett said, “I’m so glad to hear something different than what I have been hearing. I want us to be one of those couples that didn’t let adultery break them up.  I am going to go home and ask my wife to come to couple’s counseling, and tell her I am willing to do everything I can to help us get past this issue if she will just give it a try with me.”  To make a long story short, he did just that and they came to couples counseling together, and now after some pretty hard work they’re doing great.  In fact they both suspect they are probably doing better than they ever would have had they not learned to handle their adultery problem with lots of new and better ways to do healing love, and re-start their love relationship in bigger and better ways.

Are you aware that the majority of marriages in the Western world, and especially in the USA, go through at least one major event involving adultery (cheating, affair, unfaithful, etc.) and most do not divorce over it.  Of course, for many couples it is immensely difficult and there is a great deal of agony, struggle and recovery work to do.  (See the entries under Dealing with Love Hurts”).  The good news is many couples do the work it takes, and though it is a hard way to get there, their marriage becomes stronger and better than it ever was before.

If you’re facing an issue like the one Bennett was facing here are three hard but important questions to ask yourself.  Is your love greater than your hurt?  (Great love conquers great hurt!).  Is the love you have with your spouse more powerful than what you have been taught to think, feel and do about adultery?  (What you have been trained to think, feel and do may defeat love if you let it!).   How did you help your spouse go toward adultery?  (possibly by demonstrating your love for your mate too poorly, too narrowly, too infrequently, or possibly by behaving with very anti-love actions?).  Notice in this last question we have said “help” not cause.  Primary causal responsibility rests with the primary actor, but other people and assisting factors are to be considered for a full understanding.

Seldom is it wise to see one spouse as 100% victim and the other as 100% perpetrator when it comes to why someone commits adultery.  In couples group therapy Jerry said it quite well when he remarked, “I stopped getting her flowers, writing her love notes, telling her how much she meant to me, taking her where she wanted to go on dates, and in just about every way I no longer showed her the love I felt for her.  So, of course, she had an affair.  What else could I expect?”  Linda said, “I did worse than that.  I kept putting my husband down, criticizing him, not acknowledging his achievements, taking him for granted, I didn’t really listen to him and sometimes I purposefully frustrated him about sex, and was way to prudish.  I did almost every single thing you call anti-love behavior.  The other woman did the opposite of all that, so guess what, he committed adultery with her.  I might have done the same thing if I were in his place.”

There are lots of other important question/positions, but I suggest starting with these three: If you’re love can be bigger than your hurt that’s a fairly good indicator that you both may be able to recover together.  If you develop your own thoughts and chosen actions beyond what you were taught to do, adultery can be responded to in all sorts of new, different and healthier ways.  If you can discover and ‘own up to’ how your actions probably helped adultery happen, and then improve, there’s lots of hope.  These questions are not usually easily or quickly answered, and each leads to other questions you may need to struggle with.  But they often help people move toward the love healing needed.

People’s mindsets are changing in regard to the magnitude of difficulty having sex outside of marriage represents.  Gloria said, “When I found out he had sex with someone he met at work I thought it meant he didn’t love me anymore, and that he wanted to replace me with her.  That was devastating and terrifying to me.  Eventually I discovered he just wanted to see what sex was like with a woman different than me.  That was disturbing but not nearly as horrifying as what I had first thought.  Now we are working it through, and I think we’re going to make it”.

I got asked a sort of peculiar question at a weekend retreat workshop I was conducting on love relationships.  A participant asked, “Just what is the importance of one penis in one vagina as opposed to multiple penis’s in multiple vaginas”?  How would you answer that? Follow up questions in that discussion were, “Do we give too much importance to penises in vaginas or other sex acts”, and “How is it that in some parts of the world people enjoy their spouse having sex with others, while elsewhere others can’t even stand the idea of that happening”.  Perhaps those are questions you might do well to ponder.  It is true that in some cultures and at various periods in history adultery has had almost no importance at all, while at other times and places it has had enormous significance.  There are even societies in which there is no word for adultery in their language, while in others there is a whole vocabulary indicating widespread importance.

If you are struggling with an adultery issue in your life, a great big thing to examine is the influence of your societal, subconscious programming or conditioning concerning the subject of adultery.  You see, your feelings and many of your thoughts may have been pre-programmed into you, and in a sense may not even be your own, true, self-derived thoughts and feelings.  Likewise, what is your training and your subconscious programming concerning love and loving forgiveness?  Do you find yourself more in the “love can conquer all and, therefore, forgive all” category, or are you in the “adultery is marriage’s unforgivable sin” category?  Which of those do you really choose to be in and which is the most healthful for you?

Let’s look at ‘background’.  There are those who think that in olden times the only real reason adultery became the singular, allowable reason for divorce was because the ancient religious elders who made the rules were sexually insecure, immature and quite possibly sexually inadequate.  If that’s true they quite easily were threatened and, thereby, motivated to make big, strong rules protecting themselves.  Naturally, to reinforce their defense they said it was God’s will, and they were but the messengers.  Others point out that patrilineal societies tend to have much stricter prohibitions and punishments for adultery than do matrilineal societies.  Then there are the cultures in which not having sex with guests, visitors and the like, outside of the pair bond is grounds for divorce.  Also consider the societal groups in which everyone is expected to be having extra pair bond sex, and those in which a woman having children by different men is held in higher esteem than a woman having children by only one man.

Here in modern times and places there is a growth in finding ‘adultery of the heart’ to be far more grievous than ‘adultery of the body’.  Marla said, “Just so long as he doesn’t bring home a disease I don’t care who he does what with, except he better not fall in love with her because that’s totally forbidden in our relationship”.  Thomas remarked, “My wife and I can have sex with somebody else but three times is the limit.  After that it might get too emotional and neither of us wants that.  We love each other tremendously and want each other to have all sorts of pleasures, and at the same time we want to safeguard our love because it’s so precious.”  People who think like this in the Western world are a minority, but be not mistaken it’s a growing minority.

There also are a growing number of couples who tell of their love of each other being far more significant than mere sex with others.  “Adultery is a forgivable sin if you really love somebody, so that’s what I’ll work at,” said Jonathan who was struggling with this issue in his marriage.  “Adultery is just not worth getting a divorce over,” said Sondra who was also battling to save her marriage.  “When you have kids getting a divorce because of adultery is just plain selfish and shortsighted.  If you really love them and your mate see if you can stick it out and make something better happen,” remarked Brenda whose marriage was coming back together.  Charles proclaimed, “We have a great deal of love for each other so we’re not going to let adultery defeat our love, and that’s all there is to it”.  So, you can see many couples have a strong “no divorce love”, or at least a no divorce over adultery love relationship, which wins the day for them.

Why explore other times, other cultures and other people’s ways of doing love and sex?  Because it is one way we are more likely to make informed choices in our own love relationships instead of reacting out of subconscious programmed determined ways.

You may be finding it hard to wrap your mind around these ideas, and your heart may be aching, and your gut churning, because for most people grappling with adultery issues is one of the hardest things they ever do.  Adulterous behavior for many leads to almost unbearable agony, great fear, and a great sickening of the heart.  Even so, the message here is take heart.  While most couples will face a real-life challenge in this area most will, with love and hard work, get past it and many will end up in a better functioning love relationship than they started with.  My bias is the smart, the practical, and the most loving seek out the help of a love knowledgeable, nonjudgmental couple’s therapist and get past the difficulties together with help and insight.  With competent couple’s counseling they do this far faster, more thoroughly, and with less pain than they otherwise would have.

Also very important is the fact that by way of counseling they do it with far less destructiveness for all concerned.  Even though adultery can be terribly painful to a couple, divorce or breaking up is quite frequently not the best answer.  Of course, if there is little true, healthy love, lots of emotional and/or other abuse, repeated lies, betrayal and deception, and an unwillingness to truly work for improvement a couple may be psychologically divorced already.  However, adultery’s effects so very often can be overcome by a strong ‘no divorce’ committed love when two people keep working to grow their healthy, real love.

In regard to adultery a ‘no divorce love’ is one that makes an established, shared love more important than relations outside that established shared love, more important than fear, more important than hurt (but not more important than harm), and more important than social pressure and past teachings.  It also must be one in which those in the established, shared love are willing and able to mutually work on the improvement of their love relationship giving it extremely high priority in their lives.
It is my sincere hope that these thoughts will be helpful to you and those you share these thoughts with.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Are you, or will you be working for your love (spouse type) to grow so strong that it can, if necessary, survive an adultery challenge?


Love Complaints Versus Love Requests

“She’s always griping, complaining and blaming me for everything!  I’ve had it with her endless moaning and groaning.  I’m through listening to her bitching.  If it doesn’t stop I’m going where I won’t ever have to defend myself against her stupid accusations again.  I will leave and get a divorce”.

So said Andrew in a couple’s counseling session.  Rachel, his wife, angrily shouted, “You don’t ever listen to me.  You just wall up and ignore what I need.  You don’t really love me or you’d listen to me and give me the love I need”.  “See what I mean” was Andrew’s reply.

With some work it became clear to both Andrew and Rachel that she actually was attempting to get what she felt she needed and what she very much wanted, not by asking for it but by complaining and blaming about what she wasn’t getting.  It also became clear that Andrew had come to hear just about every thing she said as a complaint, gripe or a personal attack to which he got angrily and offensively defensive. 

With some more couple’s counseling things began to change for the better.  “You’re always yelling at me” became “sweetheart, could you say that in a softer tone please?”  “You never listen to me” was replaced with “Honey, I would like you to really hear me very carefully for the next few minutes.  Would that be okay?”  “We never go anywhere and you never take me out” turned into “Darling, I would really like us to go on a date this weekend, just you and me with real positive, romantic attitudes, OK?”  “You’re a damned sex addict” and “You sexless prude” turned into “Let’s make some time for just love, and then some time for love and sex together.”  “That sounds great.  How about Friday night for one and Saturday night for the other?”.  “You don’t love me anymore” became “I’m really hungry for your special love so could we cuddle and hug a lot tonight?”

Rachel and Andrew learned that requests are not easily heard when they sound like complaints.  Desires expressed as gripes and longing framed as blame don’t work.  Nor is anger easily understood as the hurt and frustration that usually underlies it.  Frowns are more likely to be seen as disapproval than worry, and agitation often is not viewed as the fear and anxiety it often stems from.

With help Andrew and Rachel learned, practiced and built new, far more loving ways to go after what they wanted and help each other obtain their desires.  They discovered that loving requests are usually not heard as attacks to defend against, desires well stated are not interpreted as criticism, and well expressed wants are not to be interpreted as demands or control efforts to be rebelled against.

Rachel and Andrew created their own version of some simple but very helpful rules to follow:

1. Talking about what’s wrong seldom leads to creating what can become right.  Therefore, talk about what ‘right’ would look like to both of you.  Then synthesize your two views if possible.
 
2. Talking about what went wrong doesn’t automatically lead to how you can make something go well.  Therefore, talk about how you want something to go rather than how it went.
 
3. Talking about a past event that felt bad seldom gets a couple to a future event that feels good.  Go directly after ‘feel good’ future events and keep talking in the future tense not in the past tense when you want something to improve.
 
4. Talking about who’s to blame seldom leads to who’s going to make an improvement or how to make a joint improvement.  Talk about what is to be done in the future and who’s going to do it and when it will be done.
 
5. Talking with words that are demeaning (stupid, feather-brain, idiot, brute, etc.) destroys teamwork.  Honestly praise and compliment your partner frequently (yes, there usually is something to praise, however small) and use many terms of endearment.  It’s OK to say “Lover, right now I am very mad at you” but not “You ignorant bastard”.
 
6. Talking in unclear, imprecise, vague terms seldom gets you what you want or what is needed.  Identify what you desire clearly and then ask for it in behavioral terms.  Then add when you want what you desire.  For example “You’re not affectionate” can become “I want a hug”, or cuddle, or to make love, or a compliment, or a date, or for you to look lovingly into my eyes, etc..  Remember to identify the time frame you want it in.
 
7. Talking with a bad or negativistic attitude, or a bland blah neutral attitude is divisive and de-motivating, and will not lead to happy togetherness.  Therefore, talk with a loving and whenever appropriate upbeat attitude, and lovingly request the same of your partner.  To do that, first purposefully center yourself in love not in anger, hurt, power, manipulation, etc.

I find most couples can benefit from these seven ‘rules’ and I hope you find them useful.

If you lovingly talk in the future tense where improvements can happen you may get to a love-filled future.  If you talk in the past tense it will likely take you to the past and all you will do is repeat it.  It can be OK to talk the negative, painful past if the talk can be devoid of blame, and does not re-create the bad feelings of the past, and also is accomplished with well demonstrated, two way loving empathy.  Otherwise, avoid it.  Attempting to get agreement on the past is often an unattainable and unnecessary endeavor.  Focus on what is ‘now’ and ‘next’ instead.

Most of all learn to make truthful, accurate, clear behavioral requests with a loving attitude and do it frequently.  Then, of course, work hard to really hear your loved one’s requests from a love-centeredness.  We often make a mistake so common in our culture.  It is the mistake of trying to make improvements in a relationship by talking in the negative i.e. griping, complaining, blaming, criticizing, etc.

Relationship related complaints are often founded in love hunger and an appropriate desire to be better treated, or are founded in some hurtful experience to which well expressed love will be the cure.  The trouble with talking in emotional negatives is that it usually doesn’t get you to go toward emotional positives or anywhere else you want to go.  Even if your complaint is well-based in something love related, it is only the exceptional, highly love able people who are likely to hear it that way.  If you want to be well loved speak in strong, assertive, love filled ways, asking for what you want clearly.  Then do a really good job of listening to what is wanted by those you love.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
When you were growing up did the people around you communicate with unhappy sounding gripes, complaints, blame and criticism, or with loving requests?  Do you talk the same, better or worse now?


Bull Wrestling, Bull Dancing and Love Quarrels

Synopsis: How to tell if you are acting more like a bull dancer, a bull wrestler or the bull when you have conflicts with loved ones, and what to do about it – with love.


When you have a dispute, quarrel, argument or fight with a loved one do you go at it more like a bull wrestler, or a bull dancer or the bull?  In ancient Rome they used to select the biggest, strongest guy they could find and put him in the arena with a bull made angry for the occasion.  The bull would charge, if the bull wrestler survived his job was to grab the bull by the horns and wrestle the bull to the ground and then break its neck.  They lost a lot of bull wrestlers that way.  On the island of Crete and later on the Iberian Peninsula they developed entirely different ways of dealing with the angry bull.  Those ways became known as bull dancing.

Today those approaches survive in what we call bull fighting, but it is not fighting at all.  It is an elegant form of dancing in which the charging bull almost always loses.  Notice how this works.  A big, powerful, scary thing tries to attack the Matador.  The Matador does not wrestle the bull, does not run away, but instead he (or she) stands his or her ground, usually doesn’t get hit, and artfully dances the big, dark, horrible, powerful, charging horned thing right by.  In the Portuguese form they do this until the bull is exhausted and gives up and, thus, the bull gets to live as well as the Matador.


So, I ask, do you go about your conflicts with loved ones more like a Roman bull wrestlers or more like an artful bull dancer, or do you behave like the charging bull?   Bull wrestlers meet their charging opponent head on, get impacted, use up their power wrestling with their opponent’s every little move, and usually get wounded if not destroyed in the process.  Remember, only spectators go home uninjured.  Those who act like the bull start roaring and charge ahead full force trying to run over, stomp and gore their opponent any way they can.  Both the bull and the bull wrestler may have a lot of recovery to do if they survive their conflict.  Also if they have any future relationship with each other it is unlikely to be a positive one.

The bull dancer lets the bull charge and expend its energy while artfully stepping aside.  In ancient Crete bull dancers evolved their art into an amusement where they gymnastically somersaulted over the charging bull, bouncing off it and expertly played with it, thereby, finessing it into harmlessness, usually ending with the bull running around in circles until it got tired.  Bull dancers and the bull consequently developed an ongoing relationship with each other in which no one was likely to get hurt and they got to have fun with each other over and over again.

You are likely to be approaching things like the bull if you see ‘red flags’ often, quickly take offense, roar (scream, yell, etc.), get yourself angrily worked up, and go on the furious attack attempting to show your loved one how they are wrong, mistaken, stupid, bad, or worse.  You are likely to be acting like the bull wrestler if you just stand there getting hit, stomped and gored as you might fight back effectively or ineffectively while becoming defensive and ending up emotionally scarred and wounded in the process.  But there are a couple of other options.  You could act like a sacrificial victim and get slaughtered, or you might attempt to run away.

You are probably acting like a finessing, artful bull dancer when you remind yourself that the anger and upsetness of the bull tells you much more about the bull and what it gets itself upset about than about you or your qualities.  You’re a good finessing bull dancer when the bull attempts to gore you with blame, stomp you with accusations, or run over you with its rapid-fire logic and you let all that just go charging past, not take it to heart or let it get you in the gut.

Good listening skills are a lot like a Matador who first uses the Cape, helping the bull get all of its negative energy out.  It’s good to remind yourself with silent, self affirming statements that while the bull is roaring at you with complaint and dissatisfaction it is sort of like the Matador standing his or her ground and doing good, mental footwork to hold on to your position and to your okayness.

You probably know that all analogies break down if you extend them too far.  Being artfully able to deal with conflict coming at you, so you can get to a place where love and reason prevails is the real goal.  Being able to get to where you and those loved ones who seem to be in conflict with you can ‘work together against the problem’ instead of against each other is the best outcome.  You may feel like destroying the bull from time to time but to do so would kill the relationship.

So, the next time a conflict with a loved one starts to happen let me suggest you consider visualizing yourself doing the artful, elegant matador’s dance whereby the horns don’t get you and the bull has a chance to calm down.  You can, with love and cleverness, learn to finesse the charging bulls in your life right past you.  Then you can demonstrate your love and perhaps both of you can get to be OK with each other.  After that, if all goes well, together you can go against whatever the real problem seems to be.  That is sort of like getting to ride the bull out of the arena.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Are you tending to deal with difficulties with a loved one better, the same, or worse than the people you grew up around?


Is Depression Love Starvation?

More and more evidence is stacking up suggesting that much of what we call depression might just be, or be caused by, love malnutrition or love starvation.

Healthy real love, especially of the nurturing supportive type, can be said it to work like a vital energizing food and also like a very healing medicine.  People who receive the major behaviors of well demonstrated love seem to not experience much serious depression.

If they do experience depression they seem to get over it better and faster than others.  We know that severe love loss can result in severe depression for a great many people.  Loss of a major source of love often can lead to marked neurochemical imbalances and other biological problems, sometimes even resulting in death.

Abandoned infants who are physically well taken care of by others but do not receive the actions that demonstrate love suffer from failure to thrive, failure to grow and infantile depression illnesses.  We also know that several mammal species that experiencing loss of a parent, mate or offspring tend to exhibit the same biological and behavioral symptoms as humans do.  This includes observable symptoms of depression like pronounced lassitude, unresponsiveness to pleasure stimuli, sleep disturbance, eating disturbance, etc.

Being ‘loved on’ and veterinarian antidepressants are the preferred treatments for these animals.  In most cases similar treatment works well for humans also. Consequently with this evidence, and many more documented examples, we might conclude that a deficiency of healthy, real, nurturing love may result in one or more types of severe depression.  Receiving the behaviors demonstrating love from people who have the attitudes and feeling states of love seems to offer the cure in many cases of depression.

In the helping professions there is considerable evidence showing the similarity of, or connection between, love loss and depression.  A number of addiction counselors point to the most common cause of relapse in alcoholism and substance addiction as probably being one type of love problem or another.

All long, ongoing love life problems involve depression according to some relational therapists.  It seems that especially mate love, family love, deep friendship and comrade love, plus healthy self-love and spiritual love when lost, absent, or markedly reduced almost inevitably result in the same symptoms as diagnosed depression, according to certain counselors and therapists from various fields. In rehabilitative medicine good, supportive family love is known to be extremely helpful in helping amputees overcome the despondency that usually accompanies limb loss.  Love loss also can be seen as a major precursor to suicidal depression, a frequent trigger to fatal overdoses, and a strong contributing factor to fatal and near fatal accidents.  Depression along with love loss is thought to be a frequent factor in all these human tragedies.

What’s the Cure?

New or regained love often is seen to quickly alleviate depression in many people.  New and regained love are known to enliven and energize people making them more disease resistant, neurochemically more healthy, and prone to live healthier lifestyles.  Doing a good job of receiving nurturing and supportive love from any-and-all sources offering healthy real love can be a primary deterrent to depression.  This is especially true when there has been a loss, or great reduction of love, for a person who has only one major love source.  So, if you loose someone who loves you turn more to others who love you, and work at soaking up their love-filled care and concern.

If you don’t have anyone else go to a love-centered counselor who can help you get started on finding and building a loving network.  And don’t let anything get in the way of that.  Building or connecting with a network of healthfully loving people probably provides some of the best insurance against the depression that comes with love loss.  Those who are strongly participating members of a highly healthfully loving couple relationship, family situation or friendship group fair far better when it comes to handling depression than do those not having such love filled relationships.

Those who learn and practice healthy self-love behaviors are thought to be the people who are most quick to recover from depression linked to love loss.  Those who practice healthy self-love affirmations and behaviors may be the most depression resistant.   People who work together to improve their love behaviors toward each other and toward  themselves, and those who work to develop more spiritual love actions seem to recover from depression at faster rates and more thoroughly.

Cure your love life issues and you just might cure your depression.  That is the hopeful possibility presented here.  But wait, what is meant by ‘love life’?   That’s crucial to understand!  Lots of people think sex when they hear the term ‘love life’, or just hear the word love.  Ask a person how their love life is and you may get a blush, a leer, or an offended look because they think you’re asking about their sex life.  It seems a pity to me that sexuality has usurped, and perhaps somewhat blinded us to the much larger and more important meanings of a term like ‘love life’.

Here your love life has to do how well, how much and how often you give and receive the behaviors, communicate the thoughts, and experience the wide array of physical and emotional feelings which give evidence that healthy real love is occurring.  From that understanding there flows a number of questions you might want to ask yourself.   “How well do I actually do healthy real love?”  “How often do I show my love?”  “How good am I at receiving the demonstrations of love from others?”  “How well do I do at communicating my thoughts of love?  Do I have them?   How frequently?”  “Am I doing healthy self-love sufficiently?”  “Am I good at enjoying the feelings that love can bring?”  There is a lot to this meaning of ‘love life’.

If you are wondering how do we define healthy real love remember a working definition  is given, explained and discussed in this blog’s first entries, but in brief here is our more detailed working definition:
Healthy real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved.  Love is further defined by its five major functions: (1) to personally and profoundly connect us, (2) to provide competent balanced safeguarding, (3) to improve us in all healthful ways, (4) to heal us and maximize our recovery from being sick or injured, and (5) to reward our behaviors from and with love via the many joys of love.
Note that in this definition love is not an emotion, nor is it sex, nor is it everything else listed in the blog entry about what love is not.

A very important consideration is that there are false forms of love and they, unfortunately, may act to increase depression, not cure it.

Your love life may contain many types of love, or it may not.  Life partner love, sibling love, parent to child love, child to parent love, higher power love, and a host of others are all to be considered as important in your development of a healthy enriched love life.  Any, or all of those types of love can be important for countering depression and it’s effects.  That means there are a lot of wonderful, healthful, possible ‘antidepressant’ relationships you can’t get from a pharmacy but you can get from real life.  Don’t leave out healthy self-love.  Without love-filled relationships susceptibility to some form of depression appears to be much more likely and common.

It is important to know that some forms of depression may have nothing to do with love-malnutrition or love-starvation.  Some depressive conditions are caused by imbalances in brain chemistry or other neurological problems.  Remember your mind (including your psychological heart and gut) is in your brain.  Whatever affects your brain can very strongly affect your mind, heart (love), and gut (emotions).  Therefore, bad brain chemistry can get you depressed all by itself.

Whenever there is no evidence of  biologically or physically caused depression suspect a love problem.  Ask yourself “How goes your love life?”, which may include healthy self-love, romantic love, life partner love, family love, spiritual love, love of life, love of your life purpose, the healthy mix of love and sex, love of people, etc..  If there are areas that seem empty, confusing, or areas that emotionally hurt when you focus on them then maybe you have a love deficiency that might lead to depression.  You also could have the ‘emotional poisoning’ of a false love to deal with.  Remember, healthy real love works like a vital energizing food and a very curative medicine.  If the love in your life isn’t helping to fight your depression, or seems to be making it worse, it may be a type of false love.  If that seems to be the case a good therapist probably can help.

Now there is another great big important question to ask yourself if you are trying to understand your own depression or trying to understand a loved one’s depression.  The question is “How is your depression trying to help you?”  That’s right – help you!

Consider the proposition that all your parts, systems and the machinations by which our species has been adapting and hopefully improving over millions of years, are all trying to help you.  Therefore, depression, anxiety, fear and all other ‘bad’ feelings are trying to do you a ‘good’ service, just like physical hurt tries to help you.  For example, if the physical pain in your side gets you to the surgeon who removes your abscessed appendix before it kills you, then the hurt saved your life.  All ‘bad’ feelings are ‘good’ in that they are all trying to provide you some kind of assistance.  You might even say they are trying to love you.  Yes,  these emotional warning systems can overdo it, under do it, and mis-do it – like all human systems, but their basic purpose is to aid you.

It’s the hurt you feel when touching a hot stove that gets you to yank your hand away before there is any real damage.  Fear and anxiety get you to be more cautious possibly when you need to, anger gives you more power when you don’t have enough – although it is clumsy power, boredom tells you “that’s enough” of something and it’s time to do something else, and so forth.  They all are there to assist you and even though these emotions are not fun to feel,  it’s a much better idea to work with them than to work against them.

Now let’s take a look at depression, the non-chemically induced kind.  When you have a feeling of being depressed notice what you usually do.  Usually you don’t do much of anything.  You sit around or lay around mostly inactively.  Notice what you think about.  Usually you think about what’s wrong and all ‘downer stuff’ of your life.  That’s what depression wants you to do, to not do much so you’re not distracted from thinking about what’s wrong.  Depression does you the service of getting you to be still long enough that you can focus on the unpleasant things you want to dodge thinking about in your life. Depression gets you to think about those very things.  Depression is the ‘take inventory’ feeling.  Cooperate with your depression and take your personal inventory, and then make a plan to do something about what you’re depressed about.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

If when depressed you take a lot of pills, get drunk or anything else that dodges taking inventory  your depression will be your good friend and probably get worse until you take the inventory, make a plan and start carrying it out.  At least that’s how I’ve seen it work with a lot of people in my practice.  Yes, your depression could overdo it to the point you can’t think straight and, therefore, can’t take a good inventory.  A good therapist can help you with that.  If it were not for depression there would be a lot of things people might never face until it was too late.  Depression has helped millions of people get out of bad marriages, dead-end jobs, lousy families, repressive political regimes and unfulfilling lifestyles.

If it weren’t for depression, and the service it provides, those people might have stayed until their situations totally destroyed them.  The idea is ‘work with your depression’.  Find out what it’s trying to tell you, and make the improvements in your life which you probably have been avoiding out of fear.  At least that is often the case when dealing with purely psychological or “normal” depression. 

Perhaps frequently the improvements you will need to make have something to do with not getting enough of the right kind, or the right amount of healthy real love.  Possibly you’re staying in a loveless relationship out of duty.  Maybe you’re stuck in a meaningless career due to a lack of gumption that a healthy dose of self-love might give you.  You might think you’re trapped in a draining lifestyle because you love your kids, mate, etc..  You may need to fix the source, type or amount of love your getting, add new sources of love, or disentangle yourself from a love life situation more harmful than helpful.

Surprisingly some people discover that depression begins to alleviate the minute they start taking a realistic inventory, even though it hurts to think about the situation they are in.  Others find it doesn’t get better until they are enacting the plan that came from the inventory.  Sometimes when people start working their plan anxiety or fear arises because now they are facing their real issues.  Then they may back off from enacting their plan.  Often psychological or normal depression (which can be experienced as quite intense) gets worse when a person backs away from carrying out their plan for improvement.  That seems like a pretty clear guidance message to keep working the plan.  It also is the healthfully self loving thing to do.  Sometimes we go through life situations where our choice seems to be either to get anxious or to get depressed, take your pick.

With enough healthy self-love usually we pick the ‘anxiety route’ and go do what were afraid to do, but perhaps more cautiously.  That choice changes things for better or for worse, but it least it’s different and usually not depressing.  Often getting out of depression means forcing yourself to cross a sort of emotional desert before you can find new emotionally fertile land to live in.  With enough healthy self-love you will be important enough to yourself to persevere and make it across the ‘depression desert’. Healthfully loving friends and family can provide emotional oasis experiences along the way.

If you or anyone you care about struggles with strong or repeating depressive episodes there are three things to do.  First, check with a physician, possibly a psychiatrist to examine whether or not there may be a physical cause or contributor to your depression.  Second, and sort of simultaneously with doing the first thing, go looking for a good love oriented and hopefully love knowledgeable therapist.  Third, and more or less simultaneously with the other two, take a good, broad and deep look at the many parts of your ‘love life’ searching to see how you are going to improve it.

The good news is that almost everyone who learns to do this really well makes the needed changes and gets a largely new, improved and healthier life and love-life. Frequently, but not always, this alleviates the depression.  Aim to live undepressed and love enriched and you probably will do just that if you are willing to work at it.  I can say this with confidence because I have seen and helped literally hundreds of people do exactly this.

In closing I can say, not all, but much of depression does indeed seem to be, or stem from  love starvation – a lack of healthy real love of one type or another.  So often when a person experiences the powerful, vital, natural process of being highly valued, and when that person experiences someone desiring for, acting for and taking pleasure in their well-being they experience love and get better.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly



Love Centering Yourself

Angie realized that she and her husband, Harlan, were getting into the same, old, familiar fight they had had a hundred times before.  They both were blaming each other for what was wrong and both were defending themselves in very offensive ways – like they always did.

The subject matter changed but the pattern of the fights remained the same, except the fights were getting worse and worse.  It took days to recover and their marriage was damaged a little bit more each time.

But wait.  Angie remembered a new ‘technique’ she had recently learned at a Healthy Love Workshop that she might be able to use instead of fighting.  She told Harlan she had to go to the bathroom and abruptly left the scene of their often repeated, old, marital battle.  In the bathroom she worked at remembering and reminding herself of the major aspects of what the workshop leader had called The Love Centering Technique.  Then silently she  practiced the breathing, movement and meditation behaviors she had learned at the workshop.  She did this for just three minutes.  She noticed she felt calmer and more powerful, and she was thinking differently – perhaps more clearly and far less defensively.

She then went back to Harlan who was even more angry than when she left.  She heard somehow differently what he was furiously saying.  She, herself, said far less than before and she spoke in much kinder yet firm tones of voice.  She also noticed her face was more relaxed and thought probably her facial expressions were less severe than before, perhaps occasionally she even looked softer.  When evaluating this she managed a brief, small smile.  The smile seemed to confuse Harlan and slow him down.  Then Angie became aware that, while she still felt quite firm, she was no longer angry and, even better, she was no longer feeling so hurt and vulnerable with what Harlan had been derogatorily screaming at her.  She was thinking more clearly and wanted to come up with ideas that might help to go in a positive direction.

Angie subtly continued to do the breathing, movement and calm thinking she had learned and she realized she was seeing and hearing the frustration and hurt behind her husband’s angry words, and it dawned on Angie that she was starting to feel a distinct sense of love for her husband.  Feeling sorry for him came next.  She could see he was caught up in an agonizing pattern of their terrible fight habits.  However, this time she was not.  Angie began to speak to Harlan in very kind tones of voice saying she understood he was hurting and she cared.  Harlan became befuddled and he could not quite maintain the intensity of his accusations and blaming statements, though he continued to try.  

After a while Harlan was expressing only his hurt and Angie, while accepting no blame, showed that she truly was sad that they both were often deeply hurt by this way of dealing with each other.  She reached out and softly touched Harlan and he looked even more bewildered, but then he began to be less awful and just a bit more kind.  Slowly their ‘argument’ turned into a ‘talk’ and finally in silence they held hands not knowing what else to do.  Soon they hugged and went about doing regular things, both in a much better place.

Nothing was verbally resolved, no decisions made, and no apologies delivered yet Angie and Harlan had started treating each other in a cautiously, yet distinctly, more loving way. This change happened right in the midst of Angie and Harlan’s marital difficulties and that had never happened before.  Could this be the start of something new and better, and could Angie be the catalyst for repeat performances of this new way of dealing with each other?

According to Angie’s description, by love centering herself before re-engaging her husband she had triggered both of them into a new way of responding to each another.  She repeated this love centering technique each time she and Harlan began to have difficulties with each other.  It didn’t always work perfectly but it worked far better than the old habit patterns that were destroying them as a couple.  Angie’s understanding is that sometimes one person, intelligently and purposefully, can use the power of love to change a couple’s destructive dynamics and do something constructive instead.  It is even better and faster when both people are working to make that change but, yes, one person can make a difference.

Angie and Harlan have since both learned ‘love centering’ and used it in a number of other situations.  Angie used it before having “the sex education talk” with her daughter.  Harlan used it before going into a contentious, dispute resolution conference at work.  You see, love centering is an act of self love too; it physiologically, psychologically and emotionally helps one to center in a calmer, stronger, healthier place in order to act more positively and beneficially in most situations.  Angie and Harlan together used love centering as part of a drug intervention experience with a family member.

Angie found it extremely useful before going to comfort a friend who had just lost a spouse to cancer.  Harlan and Angie say that each time they have used love centering it has helped them do a hard thing better.  Angie knows that love centering probably is a technique that will not work for everyone and that some people would find it far harder to learn and practice than others.  Nevertheless, she, and now Harlan too, are strong advocates of the love centering technique and they urge everyone to give it at least some study and consideration.

If you are interested in this technique and if you work at it you may be able to teach yourself love centering.  This technique seems to be most easily learned by those who are good with affirmations, meditation and introspection practices, and those trained in certain Eastern philosophies and disciplines.  However, a wide spectrum of people have learned and found love centering well worth their while.

The love centering technique itself is a quick, simple procedure that may make you healthier, happier and more generally effective in your interactions with others.  Love centering also may make all your love relationships go better and may make your dealings with difficult people go smoother.  And love centering has been known to be profoundly effective in helping people improve their relationship with themselves.  Even if you lose an altercation if you go into it love centered, and maintain that attitude, you are likely to lose less and come out much better.

Essentially love centering is a brief, meditation affirmation technique.  It also can be done prayerfully as a simple, short spiritual practice.  Love centering counters being ‘centered’ in self-defeating, negative emotions.  If you let yourself become centered in fear, anger, money lust, status, etc. you are likely to be sabotaging your own psychological health even when you are outwardly victorious in regard to the subject.  Love centering also has been a great help to a number of individuals seeking to bring forth their best and most able selves.

If you wish to maximize your competency, release your constructive and creative powers, and generally do life better, love centering may provide you with a very useful tool.  Love centering is suspected of being physically healthful especially when facing difficult, high pressure situations.  It appears to help deal with stressors, counters stress reactions and helps the brain produce healthful neurochemistry.  It also may influence longevity.

There are several approaches to love centering.  One works like this.  To do a full, class ‘A’, love centering exercise it is best to start by getting off to yourself so you can remain isolated from others for six minutes at the very least.  Once you are alone sit down in a straight and symmetrical posture with your arms hanging down at your sides or placed comfortably in your lap, with both feet on the ground, with your head up and looking straight forward.  Putting a sense of energy or intensity into it, slowly think silently to yourself, “I am now going to center myself in love”, then pause and take in and exhale a deep, slow breath.  Then think, “I am centering myself in love.”  Pause and take another deep, slow breath.  Now think, “I am centered in love”.

Take a third deep, slow breath and exhale it slowly.  You can repeat this three times or more to help you get into a feeling of being centered in love if needed.  If you prefer you also can say these words out loud, but remember, do everything quite slowly.  As you do this, imagine that love and its awesome, universal strength is flowing all over and through your body, from the universe toward your heart.

Imagine your heart filling up with amazingly powerful, wondrous and serene love.  As you do this continue to breathe deeply and slowly, relax your arms, open your hands and slowly raise your arms over your head.  At this point you might think, “I raise my arms to the universe to symbolically connect with a great love force in the universe.  I open myself to that love and let it flow into me.”  Then symbolically you might scoop a big handful of that love and slowly bring your hands to the center of your chest while you think, “I bring that love into my heart” as you gently press the palms of your hands to the center of your chest.

Continue to breathe deeply and slowly and imagine your heart filling with exquisite, powerful love.  Then you can think, “I center myself in love and only love”.  Repeat this three times.  Let your arms relax and go back to hanging at your sides or placed in your lap.  Repeat this entire sequence of movements and thoughts three times or more while remembering to breathe slowly and deeply.
An important next step is to bring your hands to your heart center and meditatively and purposefully say to yourself, “I center myself in love, not in fear, or anger, or worry or anything else besides love. 

I fill my heart with love and its awesome power.  I will let love radiate out from my heart to my whole being and to everyone I am soon to encounter”.  Repeat this two to five times.  Then with hands remaining at your heart, and remembering to breathe slowly, resolutely say to yourself, “I center myself in love and I will powerfully and effectively come from love for the people (or person) I am about to deal with and toward myself.  I will let love empower and inform all that I’m about to do.”  Slowly repeat that two to five times.

After doing this meditative affirmational exercise take one last deep breath and notice how you feel.  If you feel love empowered, loving and lovable, calm and confident then go forward toward what you have set yourself to do.  If you do not feel sufficiently empowered repeat the exercise again.  After that if you still do not feel sufficiently love filled and love centered to be able to act with and from love you might do one of two things.

You can admit you are not now making this exercise work for you and so it may be best to go on to something else and maybe try again later, or you could blame the exercise and say it doesn’t work and never try it again.  Do remember that nothing works for everyone and nothing works every time.  If it’s not working for you, or at least not working yet, don’t be negative to yourself about that, don’t ‘beat up’ on yourself because that would be de-powering, poor self-love, inaccurate and inappropriate.

After love centering yourself and doing whatever you have set out to do you may wish to evaluate how loving and how successful you were in your post-love centering endeavor.  In my experience a good number of people find the more they do love centering the better it works for them.  However, that is not everyone’s experience.  As we have noted before it is not expected that this sort of technique will work for everybody.  Meditative, affirmational and inner, self oriented approaches are highly useful for some, but not for all.

Becoming good at love centering usually decreases the amount of time it takes to get there and the more powerful it becomes.  It’s like exercising a muscle, use your ‘love muscle’ often and it will be there quickly and strongly when you need it.

There are many possible alterations, adaptations and differing applications to love centered approaches.  For instance Luke uses love centering in his work as a labor relations contract negotiator.  He says it helps him keep the parties involved from getting angry at each other which sabotages the negotiations.  Laura uses it as a hospice nurse dealing with grieving relatives.  Riley has found it helpful in certain difficult situations he faces as a policeman.  Suzanne and Sheila say it was love centering that got them past their decade’s old, sibling rivalry problem.

Lots of people alter the words used and that’s good because when you are saying your own words it’s often more effective.  After practicing this technique often the words can be shortened.  Jesse said all he needs to say to himself is, “I center myself in love and its great strength, and with love I will remain calm, compassionate, carrying and able to reason” before he goes in to preside over the next family court session as a judge.

Some people minimize the motions and behaviors involved in love centering.  In the midst of an argumentative difficulty Tonya takes a slightly deeper breath, and discreetly raises one hand to the middle of her heart area silently saying to herself, “I am centering myself in love now” and then carries on with her work at a complaints desk in a large corporation.

To see if love centering can work for you I suggest you ‘try it on for size’ about five times in its full form.  It usually takes that to get a sufficient feel for it.  If it’s not working by then it’s likely not a practice that fits you sufficiently.  Of course it has to be tried sincerely and with some energy.  If you think your skeptical, doubtful mind will be a difficulty as you try to do this you may be in a sort of resistant or self defeat mode and not able to experiment with this technique at this time.  That’s okay, there are lots of other things to do.

However, your skeptical mind need not fully believe in this kind of technique because it is accomplished by ‘doing’ rather than ‘believing’.  Of course, deciding it won’t work for you before you have really tried it probably will result in it not working for you because of the dynamics of self-fulfilling prophecies.  It is my suggestion that you consider it, experiment with it, and discover if you can make your life a more love empower life by using this tool called The Love Centering Technique.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Do you have people in your life who often seem to be coming from love toward you and toward almost everyone else?  If you do are you studying and to some degree copying them?


Does Sexual Preference Influence Love?

To understand some of what’s involved here let’s first take a look at a few important questions and some possible, or probable, answers that have to do with sexual preference.  Then we will apply that knowledge to love.

Question 1. What causes people to have different sexual preferences?

Answer: The preponderance of scientific evidence points to all sexual preferences – homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, transsexuality, etc. as primarily being biologically predisposed, probably before birth.  There is considerable scientific evidence which shows that atypical gender identity development is influenced by variations in prenatal hormonal and neurochemical factors, which also influence the incidence of left-handedness and finger ratio measurements concordant with sexual preference development.

Furthermore, there are anatomical brain differences, especially in the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, a brain area vital to varying sexual behavior tendencies.  Then there are the genetic influences illustrated by sexual preference inheritability being high among monozygotic twins, and less strong but also high among fraternal twins.  Whatever your sexual inclination you were probably predisposed toward that inclination biologically, probably before birth according to the preponderance of the most recent scientific research.

Question 2. What is some of the other evidence that tells us biological predisposition is causal?

Answer: First, brain studies show a number of different parts of the brain of homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals and transsexuals tend to be different from each another.  Especially different are the parts of the brain known as the corpus callosum, medial pre-optic nucleus and the hypothalamus.  Brain chemistry also is somewhat different.

Second, over many decades hundreds of well conducted, psychological studies have been done trying to discover the psychological cause of homosexuality, and no psychological cause has ever been discovered and substantiated by replicated research.  A number of newer theories still are under investigation but so far nothing definitive can be said to have been discovered.

Third, about 10% of most mammals exhibit homosexual preference and another 15 to 20% exhibit bisexual behavior.  Many bird species show similar results.  Bisexual behavior is extremely common among some mammal species like the bonobo apes.  There also are brain differences in various homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual animals.  By the way, some researchers think there is evidence to support the contention that bisexuality is on the rise, especially among human females.  Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that all people are at least a little bit bisexual.

Question 3. Why do different sexual preferences exist in nature?

Answer: Nature is all about variety and keeping its options open.  We never know when a variation will turn out to help a species survive or advance in its development; for instance the bisexuality of bonobo apes seems to have contributed greatly to solving the problem of violence within that species.  Bonobos when faced with conflict literally ‘make love not war’.  Inter-species aggression so common among baboons, chimpanzees and humans is virtually nonexistent among bonobos, who are the most sexual and the most bisexual of us, who are classed as primates.

It also is to be noted that there are species that change gender, being female for a while, then male for a while, and being heterosexual part of their life, and homosexual another part of their life.  Likewise, there are species that are both genders simultaneously.  Furthermore, there is some evidence among humans that in times of war and other great stressors women give birth to more ‘bisexual and homosexual to be’ children who are then thought to become more tolerant, flexible, harmonious and generally peaceful in their adulthood than is average among heterosexuals.

Homosexuals and bisexuals also are thought to give higher than average child raising supportive and protective care to their heterosexual brother’s and sister’s children, thus, increasing the survivability of a family’s genetic line.  Consequently homosexuality and bisexuality give certain of our species a noteworthy evolutionary advantage.

Question 4. Are there other things that influence the emergence or development of different sexual preferences?

Answer: There is some evidence which would suggest that some young children may go through a critical period in which exposure to more or less equally interesting, pleasuring and loving males and females may influence the early emergence of bisexuality.  Certainly the social acceptability of various sexual preferences causes especially homosexuals not to try to suppress their emerging sexual tendencies.  In those societies which are strongly anti-homosexual much greater inner conflict and stress results, which may cause some people to be able to inactivate their natural predispositions, especially if their sex drive is not very strong.

Question 5. Are people of one sexual preference or another more likely to be mentally ill, prone to criminality or addictions, or in other ways destructive to themselves and society?

Answer: Yes is the arguable answer; and the most destructive people according to gender preference are – heterosexual.  Actually the differences are fairly negligible according to most reputable studies.  In many cultures men and women who are homosexual have had far more societal stressors than heterosexuals or bisexuals, and those stressors are causal in mental and emotional illness and other dysfunctions for many.  In societies much more accepting of people of different gender preference these problems turn out to be the same or slightly better than heterosexuals according to several authorities.

Those people who are one gender externally but another gender internally, like many transsexuals, are likely to experience even more stressors.  Unless their stress coping mechanisms are good they are more likely to experience one type of dysfunction or another.  Interestingly, highly androgynous people seem to do rather well in life in most cultures.  Hermaphroditic people who have the physiology of both genders rather equally are too rare to have had significant data gathered.

Probably not enough good, quality research has been done in this area and we have more to learn. Your sexual preference makes a difference in who you are attracted to, who you come to love and make a primary life partnership with, if you do that.  Other than that most studies seem to point to the idea that being homosexual, or bisexual or heterosexual doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to the vast majority of other varying aspects of life.

Now let’s look at the love factor.
Question 6. Does your sexual preference make a difference in how you do love?

Answer: There is some evidence suggesting that homosexual men and women give more thought to how to do love than the average heterosexual.  Furthermore, those who have sufficient emotional maturity may do love relating rather better than many heterosexuals. Both bisexual males and bisexual females actually even may be better at love.  Contrarily, there is some evidence to suggest that homosexuals who are immature may have a harder time getting beyond romantic idealization and the many problems that accompany it.

Strongly bisexual males and females seem to have a somewhat harder time than homosexuals or heterosexuals when, and if, they attempt to be monogamous.  However, if their primary mate relationship compatibly allows for some multi-person involvement they are thought to do better than average according to several researchers who study this sort of thing.  For the most part, homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals demonstrate the same range of behaviors when attempting to do a love relationship.  All do better to about the same degree when they learn more about how love is healthfully given and received.

Question 7. How do people of different sexual preferences do at family and child love?

Answer: The evidence points to homosexual couples working harder than heterosexual couples at doing family love and child love well.  Consequently they get better results in most areas measured.  Other forms of sexual preference have not been studied sufficiently but there is some evidence which suggests bisexual people do no worse and possibly a little better than the average heterosexual.

Question 8. How do people of different sexual preferences do at healthy self-love?

Answer: Because of societal condemnation, and especially judgmentalism and condemnation in religious communities homosexuals have had a terrible time developing sufficient healthy self-love.  Self-hate, self rejection, low self esteem, escapist addictions and suicide have been measured as quite high, although now with more social acceptance and more available support networks these problems are reducing.  In those cultures where different sexuality is common and accepted these problems for the most part don’t exist in larger percentages than is true of heterosexuals.  Even though bisexuals have been able to ‘hide out’ in heterosexual communities they have exhibited some of these self love problems also.

Question 9. Is there any reason to believe that people of one sexual preference or another will naturally or automatically do healthy, real love relating better or worse than people of other sexual preferences.

Answer: No!

Question 10. Do people of one sexual preference or another do spiritual love better or worse than people of other sexual preferences?

Answer: People who have more stressors, and difficulties and differences than average go looking for help and answers more than is typical.  That often includes searching into religion and spiritual matters.  Homosexuals, and bisexuals and other people with sexual differences have to cope with more stressors when they live in sexually, anti-democratic, social environments.  Therefore, it is thought a fair number of these people search for spiritual solutions and spiritual development more than the average person does.

Those who search tend to find and, therefore, grow their abilities in spirituality.  Homosexuals living in sexually anti-democratic societies especially run into lots of social and sometimes religious prejudice, rejection, hate, pseudo-love and related difficulties.  Consequently they often turn away from organized religion and toward independent spirituality.  Other than that there does not seem to be much of a spirituality difference between heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, and other sexualities.

Among people who give arduous study to these sort of things there is this conclusion – the love of life, the love of nature, the love of a deity, the love of fellow humans and all other forms of love can be just as strong and done just as well by people of one sexual preference as it is of another.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Can you give and receive family love and friendship love equally to people of all different sexual persuasions?


Love Affairs: Bad?, Good? and Otherwise

Will a Love Affair be Good or Bad for You?  The answer may depend on whether you usually make most things go well for you and those you love, or not.

It also may depend on your subconscious ‘self-defeating’ or ‘self winning’ ways of going about life.  Another thing it definitely could depend on concerns what and how you think about love affairs.

Some people’s thinking about love affairs is well informed, intelligent, rational and balanced.  Is yours?  There also are those whose thinking is na├»ve, gullible, poorly informed and vulnerable.  Is that you?  A good many tend to think romantically and sexually about love affairs, but not much past that.  Could that be you?  A large number think judgmentally and with considerable negativity, while others are caught between thinking hopefully and fearfully.  Does any of that apply to you?  There, of course, are those in both committed and uncommitted relationships who secretly think about love affairs with joyful anticipation, delicious desire, clever premeditation and scheming intrigue.  Describing you perhaps? 

Then we have those who just get a big, happy kick out of thinking, talking and maybe even doing love affairs.  And there are those who think about love affairs with sad regret and those who think about them with happy reminiscence.  So, how do you think when you think of love affairs?  If you’re going to participate in a love affair it’s probably going to make you think a whole lot about it and to consider what your love affair is all about.  To think healthfully and successfully about love affairs let’s look at things that you might need to be aware of and consider carefully.

Singles with high love desires, and singles with breaking hearts, couples who can’t stop cheating on each other, and couples joyously reunited and working at co-recovery, the wear and tear on some relationships from multiple affairs, affairs that bring both agony and ecstasy, secret pride and public shame, terrifying dilemma and soaring freedom, crushing defeat and exhilarating victory, all these and far more are encompassed in the simple term ‘love affair’.

Love affair issues are agonized over and struggled with in my counseling practice almost every week.  That consistently has been true for years and years.  This means I have worked with thousands of people in all sorts of different love, sex and other types of affairs.  As a health professional my primary goal is always to get to a healthful resolution for all concerned.  I take the side of health against pathology, dysfunction and destructiveness.  It’s sometimes pretty tricky but I don’t take the side of ‘him’ or ‘her’, of someone else, or of saving the relationship or ending it.

I am neither for or against any of those positions unless it coincides with what is healthful for all concerned.  Since illicit or secret affairs are the ones usually presenting the most difficulty we will deal mostly here with those.  Later we will deal with the ‘yeas’ and ‘nays’ involved in open affairs, uncommitted single’s affairs and other kinds of affairs.  Those too can involve great dangers and difficulties along with marvelously strengthening joys, and enriching experiences and can have extraordinarily happy outcomes.

I will brag:  In my work with affairs we usually get to the ultimate goal of a healthy resolution for all concerned.  However, getting there is, almost always, quite arduous and quite complicated.  Commonly in an illicit or secret affair there are two people in a couple relationship, one or more lovers, plus sometimes children and family, some close friends and maybe others that may be strongly affected by what happens in the love affair.  Without help seriously un-healthful outcomes unfortunately are quite common in the complicated tangle of illicit affair situations.

In the worst-case scenarios suicide, murder, substance addictions, child, spouse and lover neglect and abuse, severe physical and mental harm, career ruination, economic destitution, family dissolution and a host of other truly traumatic consequences can, and do occur in many affair situations.  More commonly, repeated experiences of severe emotional hurt, serious family, social and occupational dysfunction, along with high stress and relational chaos regularly occur.  Yes, elicit love affairs sometimes can be frighteningly destructive!  If you are contemplating an illicit affair, or already are in one, don’t undervalue or be in denial about how badly it could go for you or for others who are important to you.

Then there’s the other side which doesn’t get talked about as much.  There can be, and sometimes are, very positive experiences and outcomes involved in a large number of love affairs.  Even very problem-filled affairs sometimes produce good results.  There is an extraordinary strengthening that develops and emerges in some affair protagonists.  It is not unusual that coming out of a ‘bad’ affair people take new, and much better life directions (which is a good result).  That’s especially true when they experience the help of a good counselor or therapist.

Destructive affairs sometimes result in people beneficially overhauling their life approach and their life situation which they would not have done otherwise.  Losing a spouse or love mate to an outside lover has been known to help a neglectful mate grow a much greater understanding of how to love and treat their next major love choice.  No small number of couples report that without the affair they coped with they would never have grown as good a love relationship as they have now.  Therefore, even bad affairs can have good results although usually the process, for a time, is quite awful.

Also not talked about much are the people who have excellent, positive affair results, sometimes right from the start.  Some testimonials I have heard: “My affair made me know I was worth something”.  “If it wasn’t for my affair I never would have learned what love is and how to do it well”.  “My super secret affairs led me into all sorts of exciting adventures and the best times I have ever had, so I would not trade for them for anything”. “I had a series of affairs which finally got me to my new and far better marriage and the love I always wanted”.  “Without cheating my life just would have been too damned dull.”  “It was having an affair that saved my life because before that I was on the way to putting a bullet in my head or drinking myself to death”.  “I have to be really thankful for my affair.  I think it was God sent because, crazy as it sounds, it’s what helped my marriage and made it work.  It wasn’t until my husband caught me with my lover that we started to get real with each other, and that has made all the difference in the world.  We were okay before but we’re really good together now”. 

These real-life words give evidence that sometimes having an illicit affair turns out to be positive for some people.

Here are some types of love affair results that many people don’t know what to think of:  Marcia related she was very happy about the results of her affair.  “It was my goal to have a child by a very intelligent, highly talented man and my affair got me exactly what I wanted, plus years of ongoing contact with a remarkably interesting man.  Besides that, his wife also has been involved and quite preciously captivating”.  Dennis stated, “It was my affair with an exceptionally wise, older, married woman that gave me the courage to go after the kind of woman I really wanted but was afraid I could never be enough for.  I am profoundly indebted to her”.

Serena remarked, “My several affairs are what sustained me through the long illness of my slowly dying husband.  Those wonderful men enabled me to lovingly care for him and make his life as good as possible right through to the end”.  Here too then is evidence that affairs, commonly disapproved of, can do good in certain circumstances, although there are many who would want to deny and refute that truth.

The group you perhaps hear the least about are the ones who say things like this: “I tried having an affair and it was so so”.  “My affairs were never really very bad or good, they just were.”  “Having an affair was just something to try on for size, which I did, and that’s about all I can say about it”.  “For me affairs and illicit sex were just a hobby.  After I tried that for a while I got a boat”.  It would seem that the truth of affairs is that quite a few people have disastrous results, others have really fine results and still others have mediocre results – much like most everything else in life.

If you are contemplating or feel prone to having a ‘cheating’ type illicit affair contemplate this important truth: To accomplish an illicit love affair you likely will engage in deceit, deception and perhaps a life saturated with falsehood.  All that along with the overt and covert lying that you probably will have to do is likely to be destructive to you no matter what else happens.  If it’s a true love affair perhaps the love you give and receive in the affair will be worth the price you have to pay.  Perhaps there also will be other benefits that at least help to counterbalance the difficulties of an illicit love affair.  Then again, perhaps not.

As you review the possible occurrences and outcomes of an illicit love affair let me suggest you ask yourself a few questions.  First, are you strong enough to survive the possible and probable destructive effects involved in an illicit love affair?  You see, illicit love affairs frequently turn out to be very draining.  Second, do the likely benefits outweigh the likely deficits, difficulties and potential disasters involved?  Third, who may be harmed, and how much might they be harmed?  Fourth, what exactly are the good things you are looking for in an affair and are they really good enough to go after by way of a secretive love affair?  Fifth, is there a way you could go after these things more openly and honestly?  Last, are you willing to seek the help of a nonjudgmental counselor or therapist so that your actions have a better chance of going in a healthful direction?

If you are already engaged in an illicit, secret affair is it one where real love is being given and received?  If you’re not sure about this study the “Definition of Love series” found on this site.  Do you need help in figuring out what to do with this affair?  If so, who will you go to for help?  Be careful here because some possible helpers may have a vested interest in one outcome or another, rather than helping you get to a healthful way of going about things.

If you go about the affair carefully and with healthy, real love for yourself and others things may go well for all concerned.  This is especially true if you and perhaps the others involved get some good coaching/counseling to help you through the hard spots.  Keep watching this site for more information about love, sex and other affair issues soon to appear.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love success question
Toward yourself and the others involved how compassionate, understanding and resilient can you be concerning a love affair situation that might come your way?


Previous Comments:
  1. January 4th, 2018 at 23:26 |

    Men are just not so straight species. They think they are having some fun time.and it will be for some time but they forget they are involving themselves with another woman who is not going to let go of that good time very easy….. Although men have a lot of maturity interms of business, money making, policies what not. They lack the discipline to manage their emotions. All I can say is they just start but finishing is not in their control.